Russia using Iran as 'pawn', says MP

A senior Iranian member of Parliament was quoted on Tuesday as saying that Russia was using the Islamic Republic as a “pawn” in Moscow’s dealings with other powers such as the United States.

Heshmatollah Falahatpishe, a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, was reacting to talks between the US and Russian presidents and Moscow’s announcement of a new delay in building Iran’s first nuclear power reactor.

“Russian officials once more sold Iran to the Americans at a higher price,” Falahatpishe was quoted as saying by the daily Andishe No newspaper.

Referring to a meeting in Singapore on Sunday between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his US counterpart Barack Obama, the MP said:

“They had previously also colluded against Iran and [an] example is the delay in the commissioning of the Bushehr nuclear power plant which was supposed to be completed by 2009, but ... we see the Russians are reporting another delay.”

“Unfortunately, the Russians have always used Iran as a pawn in their dealings with other powers,” Falahatpishe added.

“The hasty remarks by the Russians do not seem normal,” English-language Tehran Times quoted Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who heads the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, as saying in reaction to Monday’s Bushehr announcement.

Diplomats say Russia uses the Bushehr reactor—and major arms contracts—as levers in relations with Tehran, which is suspected by the United States and other Western powers of seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

Time running out
Medvedev said on Sunday after meeting Obama that Moscow was not completely happy about the pace of dialogue between Iran and the international community over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Obama said time was running out for diplomacy after Iran failed to give a clear answer on a UN-drafted proposal to send low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be turned into fuel for a Tehran medical research reactor.

On Monday, Russia announced the latest delay to Iran’s first nuclear power station, saying that technical issues would prevent its engineers from starting up the reactor at the Bushehr plant by the year’s end.

Russia’s Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said that politics had nothing to do with the decision, although the United States is seeking Moscow’s help in pushing Tehran to allay Western fears about its nuclear programme.

Iran, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, rejects allegations that it is seeking to build an atomic bomb and says its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity.—Reuters

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